By Anna Meiler

MELROSE (CBS) – Fedex dropped off a small box full of big hopes at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital Tuesday morning.

“This is truly the answer we’ve been waiting for,” said Dr. Steven Sbardella, the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer.

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The box contains 975 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine surrounded by dry ice that kept it cold during transport until it could be loaded into an ultra-cold freezer at the hospital.

“It’s just really, really exciting this is happening,” said Nicole Clark, Director of Pharmacy.

Front line workers who work directly with COVID positive patients are first in line. The hospital sent out a survey asking employees if they want to be vaccinated and the response has been overwhelming.

“This staff has been in front of patients this whole entire time working so hard. They’re really eager for this. It’s hope for everybody,” said Clark.

The auditorium has been converted into a vaccine clinic. On Tuesday afternoon, five front line workers will receive the first vaccines. Dr. Sbardella will be one of them. Before work, he paused for a moment, and reflected on what this day would bring.

“I felt really, really happy. I sat in my car and just sat and thought for a while. This is a real big moment for us,” he said.

Dr. Sbardella says he wanted to be first for a reason.

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“I want to function by example,” he said. “I wouldn’t be doing this myself if I didn’t think it was safe.”

Cheryl Warren, a nurse for 25 years, will be the one to administer the first vaccines at the hospital.

“It’s such a privilege, really overwhelmed with emotion being able to vaccinate our first workers today. Just an exciting moment and certainly the most exciting moment of my career,” said Warren.

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The hospital will start vaccinating more employees on Wednesday.

Anna Meiler